Don’t give up on winter sports! Learn how to cross-country ski with a baby.
Don’t let the kids keep you inside this winter. Bring them on an adventure the whole family will love when you learn to cross-country ski. Cross-country skiing is great exercise, and adding a few pounds of gear or kids only enhances the workout. Gliding through the pristine, snowy trees will be completely worth any sweat you have to wipe off your brow, however. There’s nothing like the silence of a forest on a cold afternoon. Keep reading to learn how you can incorporate cross-country skiing into your family plans this winter.
Decide on Classic or Skate
The first thing you’ll want to do when learning how to cross-country ski is decide what style of skiing you’ll do. The classic style is considered the more traditional style and is what most people think of when they imagine cross-country skiing. Classic skis are long, narrow, and flexed in a bow-like shape. They have a special grip zone that runs from the heel to several inches in front of the toes. The grip zone, also known as the kick zone or wax pocket, is essential to the proper fit and function of a classic style ski. To move forward on classic skis, you’ll want to put your weight on one ski and push down and back. This compresses the grip zone allowing you to push against the snow. Lifting your weight off that ski releases the grip zone and you can glide forward. Repeat endlessly for a magical journey through frost-covered lands.
Skate skis also have a bow-like construction but there is no grip zone. This means that the skier is continually gliding on the snow. Skate skis are shorter than classic skis and you position them in a slight V shape using your arms and poles to propel yourself forward. The skate style of cross-country skiing is not typically recommended for beginners as it requires great balance and is harder to master.
Cross-Country Ski Gear
Once you’ve decided on a style of skiing, you’ll want to make sure you have the right gear. When purchasing or renting skis, your weight will be the main factor since they work like springs. Your poles should come up to your armpits for classic style and to your forehead if you’re tackling the more difficult skate style. Already into other outdoor sports like jogging or biking? You’ll likely have many clothes that will work well for cross-country skiing. Most cross-country skiers need a good base layer and a quality soft-shell jacket. Moisture-wicking, quick-drying material will be your best friend here, so grab your synthetic options. Once you’re moving, you’ll heat up quite a bit – make sure you layer so you can adjust as necessary.
Cross-Country Ski Trails
Now that you’ve got your gear (or you have a good idea of what to rent) it’s time to find the perfect snowy trail. Groomed trails provide safety and security for cross-country skiers, especially those new to the sport. The deep tracks help to keep your skis straight, thus keeping you on the path and not in the trees. You’ll want to purchase a pass for the trails, either day or season depending on how often you plan to hit the slopes. Look for Nordic skiing centers as cross-country skiing is quite different from downhill skiing. Making sure you’re on the right tracks is essential to having a good trip!
Bring the Whole Family
If you’re planning on trying out the classic style of cross-country skiing, older kids should be able to ski on their own. Because the movements are similar to walking, even young kids and beginners can shuffle along the tracks. If you’re bringing along a baby or toddler (or even a kiddo that might tire easily) check out ski trailers or pulks. Ski trailers can be pulled behind you via waist or shoulder straps and are surprisingly cozy for the little ones. The Hamax Outback is the perfect ski trailer for a winter day. Plus you can use it year-round with its easy one-click attachments. Turn the Outback into a bike trailer, jogging stroller, and standard stroller in seconds! Padded seats, adjustable suspension, and a roomy, open cabin with UV-protected windows maximize the comfort of the Hamax Outback. Mesh vents allow fresh air to get in, but keep the cabin nice and toasty for riders. The Madshus skis and flexible, ergonomic harness ensure hours of comfort for both the skier and the passengers.
If you’re skiing with littles, you’ll also want to keep these tips in mind:
- Layers of clothing plus extra blankets and a hot water bottle will keep riders warm while taking in the sights.
- Prolonged exposure to the snow can cause burns and snow blindness. Make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and sunglasses for everyone.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. And maybe the occasional thermos of hot chocolate.
- A book or stuffed animal can go a long ways in keeping kiddos occupied during a long ride.
- Double check your route and stick close to the car if this is the first time out with the whole family.
Whether you’re a newbie or old hat at cross country skiing, towing the kids behind you can be a new and different sensation. It’s always a good idea to practice before taking the kids out. Take lessons from a certified instructor if you need help starting or refreshing your skills. No matter where you choose to cross country ski, we hope that you Explore, Experience, Together.